Game of Sorry

By Mercer BaggsOctober 19, 2009, 10:55 pm

Anthony Kim and Robert Allenby

SORRY EXCUSES: The PGA Tour tried to quash the negative press that resulted in Robert Allenby's biting criticism of Anthony Kim after the latter defeated the former, 5 and 3, in singles at the Presidents Cup. The Tour released statements from both players, with Allenby apologizing for calling Kim the 'current John Daly' – among many other things – and Kim accepting the apology.
Backspin If you buy Allenby's mea culpa or Kim's acceptance then there's a boy trapped in a balloon who needs your saving. Allenby's statement began, 'While I feel like the comments published were taken out of context ...' Really? Allenby was asked specifically [ senior writer Randall Mell was among those on hand during the interview] if his comments were on the record and he responded with, 'I don't care. Ask his playing partners, ask his team.' It's one thing to backpedal when you're under fire, but don't shoot a mockingbird and then blame the gun. It makes you look lame. Lame, Robert Allenby.

John Daly

JUST BLOWING SMOKE?: John Daly told Golf Channel this past week that he plans to return to competition after previously saying he was shutting it down for the remainder of the year due to back problems. Daly is expected to play the PGA Tour's Viking Classic in Mississippi, Oct. 29 - Nov. 1.
Backspin Last we saw Daly, he missed the third-round cut at the Wyndham. Prior to that, he shot 78 in the first round of the PGA Championship and withdrew. Before that, he shot 88 in the second round of the Buick Open. People love Daly. They say he's 'everyman.' They love him because of his faults. We've all been divorced four times; blown through millions of dollars like leaves on a lawn; battled alcohol and gambling addiction; wasted second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth chances from others. We've all been there. That's why we love him. He's just like me and you.

Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie

DON'T PEN THESE GUYS IN JUST YET: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and European captain Colin Montgomeire met up last Monday at Celtic Manor Resort for a 'Year to Go' exhibition match. The two men played a little golf on the Twenty Ten course, site of the 2010 matches, and answered questions ranging from Tiger Woods' flawless Presidents Cup performance to possible vice captains.
Backspin Here's a fun game to play: What if Ryder Cup qualifying ended today? Then Tom Watson,  Ricky Barnes and David Duval would be on the U.S. squad. Meanwhile, the European team would consist of: Simon Dyson, Lee Westwood, Ross McGowan, Padraig Harrington, Alexander Noren, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Rory McIlroy, and Oliver Wilson. And Montgomerie would be clutching his chest like Fred Sanford.

Martin Laird

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS ... : Scotland's Martin Laird defeated Chad Campbell and George McNeill in a playoff to win the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. The victory was Laird's first on the PGA Tour.
Backspin People like to go to Vegas to act in anonymity and then go back to their regular lives without anyone else being aware of how they behaved. That's exactly what seems to be happening at this event. The last six winners are: Laird, Marc Turnesa, McNeill, Troy Matteson, Wes Short, Jr., and Andre Stoltz. They go to Vegas, win big, and no one else ever remembers what transpired.
Stuart Appleby

WORK HARD FOR THE MONEY: There are three tournaments remaining on the 2009 PGA Tour schedule, leaving only three opportunities for players to gain or retain their cards for next season. Three players from outside the top 125 moved inside due to their performances in Vegas: Lard, 134th to 62nd; Bill Lunde, 126th to 124th, and Chris Stroud, 129th to 126th.
Backspin At the moment, David Duval is inside the top 125, at 121st, while Stuart Appleby is 132nd. Duval hasn't finished inside the cut line since 2002. Appleby, on the other hand, hasn't finished worse than 55th since his rookie year in 1996, when he was 130th.

Lee Westwood

THE RACE IS ON?: Lee Westwood ended a two-year winless drought, shooting no worse than 67 over four rounds in winning the Portugal Masters. The victory moved the Englishman to first on the Order of Merit, with six official events remaining on the 2009 European calendar.
Backspin By being tops in money, Westwood also leads the Race to Dubai, which offers a bonus of $1.5 million to the overall champion. The RTD was supposed to outshine the FedEx Cup monetarily, draw in PGA Tour stars, and provide drama over the final months of the year. Instead, the prize fund has been reduced by 25 percent; no Americans are in the top 60, which is the cut-off number for the season finale; and the Race has received less publicity than Police Academy 6. In other words, things haven't worked out as planned.

Tiger Woods

GOODBYE, MILWAUKEE: Milwaukee Golf Charities Inc., the organization that runs the Milwaukee PGA Tour stop, is dissolving after failing to find a sponsor. That all but assures that the Tour won't return to Milwaukee next year and presents a huge question mark regarding the future of professional golf in the area. The tournament most recently known as the U.S. Bank Championship had been played 42 consecutive years on the PGA Tour.
Backspin The event was where Tiger Woods made his 'Hello, world' pro debut in 1996. It boasts winners like Dave Stockton, Calvin Peete, Mark O'Meara, Corey Pavin and Greg Norman. But recently, the tournament has suffered to secure a top-flight field due to a spot on the schedule the same week as the Open Championship. It's a shame to lose this event, but it would be a worthy sacrifice if this got the Tour to abandon opposite-field events.
Road Hole at St. Andrews

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:  The Royal & Ancient announced that the famous Road Hole 17th at St. Andrews would be lengthened for the 2010 Open Championship. ... Anthony Kim let go of his caddie, Greg Larson. ... Ian Poulter was on the sidelines of the Florida-Arkansas football game Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. ... John Cook won on the Champions Tour and Chad Collins won on the Nationwide Tour.
Backspin The hole goes from 465 yards on the card to 490. ... Larson caddied for Kim much of the last two years. If you're wondering where you've heard his name before, he's Mark Calcavecchia's former employee, who spent 11 years in jail for his part in a small cocaine ring. ... No. 1 Florida squeaked out an ugly 23-20 victory. Poulter has been asked never to attend another game. ... It was Cook's third career victory on the senior circuit and Collins' second on the developmental tour.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.